"You've got to write an article about Uber Eats." This was from my sheepish son who'd just been rolled for $22 on Uber Eats for a pie, sausage roll and Sprite from a BP station precisely 750 metres away from where he sat. The instore price is $8.40.
He works part time at Macca's and his main point is that Uber Eats charges aren't transparent because customers pay a premium on the food as well as a delivery fee of between $4.99 and $7.99. A $10.30 Big Mac Combo instore, for example, is $12 on Uber Eats. My son's pie was more than double the instore price. This premium isn't commonly known, my straw poll suggested.
Having had multiple international students at my home over the past few years I've answered the door a surprising number of times to drivers delivering mainly McDonald's and Domino's. I talk to the students about how they're spending their money, when there is plenty of perfectly edible or even yummy food in the kitchen. According to Love Food Hate Waste a "meal in a mug" following their recipe costs $2.50 (or nothing for a teenager/student raiding my fridge with my blessing).
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I barely get through each week without someone in financial services lamenting how Uber Eats is sucking younger people financially dry. It often features in the bank statements of those seeking consolidation loans or hardship assistance.
A few weeks back Penny Lyall, advocacy coordinator at Massey University's Albany Students' Association, told me of a student seeking hardship assistance who had three Uber Eats entries on his bank statements in a single day. Many hardship applicants are regular users of the app.
When she brings up the Uber Eats problem, students look at Lyall like she has been teleported from another planet. Buying on Uber Eats is simply normal behaviour for Gen Z.
There will of course be times when ordering on Uber Eats is perfectly acceptable. However, as a go-to every time you are hungry it's far too expensive.
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Trawling the Uber Eats app for research I had the sudden epiphany that it would be possible to buy smashed avo through Uber Eats.
A quick search and I found a smashed avo Vegan Rosti Stack at Coffee Club St Lukes costs $19.50 in store. Buy it on Uber Eats and you'll pay $22.40. When I checked for an address in New Windsor, the delivery fee was $6.99. If smashed avo is bad for your finances, then buying it on Uber Eats is smashed avo on steroids.
Tim Barnett, who heads the National Building Financial Capability Charitable Trust, says the ease of credit card based online transactions for services creates a challenge for people managing their money.
The transactions are very easy to make and come off your credit card (or someone else's) and the value of that transaction is hard to grasp, especially as it's all happening on the internet.
That makes it all the more important for people to have a system for managing their finances and keeping track of expenses.
My conclusion is spend your money on whatever you want. But do it mindfully and compare Uber Eats purchases to eating up your leftovers or eating a piece of toast. Just don't whinge that you can't make ends meet. Uber Eats is just one of the many tools that make abdication of a financial future one step easier.